On December 13th, Valve will ship a prototype Steam Machine to 300 lucky fans, including a powerful upgradable chassis, a Steam Controller, and the Linux-based SteamOS, the company announced today. The rest of us get a consolation prize, however: Valve will also make SteamOS available for everyone when the prototypes ship.

While the company suggests that the new operating system won't necessarily be easy to install — "unless you're an intrepid Linux hacker already, we're going to recommend that you wait until later in 2014 to try it out," says Valve — it means that we should get a deeper look at how it works and how it performs ahead of the company's CES announcements.

Only Linux hackers need apply

If you're one of the lucky 300 individuals who are slated to receive the prototypes, you should get notified later today at around 5PM ET. If not, you're only a click away from our own hands-on impressions with the prototype Steam Machine and its controller, and about a month away from Valve's grand reveal at CES 2014. The company will unveil next year's commercial Steam Machines on January 6th.